KENSETH WILL MAKE 400th CAREER START IN THE SPRINT CUP SERIES THIS WEEKEND AT HOMESTEAD CONCORD, N.C. (Nov. 18, 2010) --- As NASCAR's top series sets the stage for the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway this weekend, driver Matt Kenseth...
KENSETH WILL MAKE 400th CAREER START IN THE SPRINT CUP SERIES THIS WEEKEND AT HOMESTEAD
CONCORD, N.C. (Nov. 18, 2010) --- As NASCAR's top series sets the stage for the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway this weekend, driver Matt Kenseth will earn a career milestone amidst the crowning of this year's champion. Kenseth will make his 400th career start in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series Sunday in the Ford 400, and after making his first debut in the series 13 years ago, he will look to earn his first win of the 2010 season in his milestone start.
Kenseth's career has been full of many achievements over the years, including his 2003 Cup Championship title where he and his No. 17 team earned a series-best 25 top-10 finishes, 11 top-five finishes and one win that season.
A native of Cambridge, Wis., Kenseth began his racing career at the age of 16 and won his first feature event in only his third race. By the age of 19, Kenseth was racing against the likes of Dick Trickle, Ted Musgrave and Rich Bickle in Wisconsin, and learning the skills that would eventually lead him to NASCAR.
In 1997, Kenseth got the fateful call from fellow Wisconsin racer, Robbie Reiser, who asked Kenseth to drive for his team in NASCAR's Nationwide Series. Continuing his successful development in the Nationwide Series, Kenseth made his first Cup series debut on September 20, 1998 substitute driving for Bill Elliott in the McDonald's Ford at Dover International Speedway. The young Kenseth drove to an impressive sixth-place finish in his first run with NASCAR's elite.
Kenseth was given the opportunity to make five more Cup series starts in 1999 while also continuing his racing in the Nationwide Series full time that season as well. In 2000, Kenseth and his No. 17 team went full-time Cup series racing and Kenseth earned his first Cup victory at the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway that year. Kenseth went on to finish his rookie season with four top-five and 11 top-10 finishes along with that win, and was named the 2000 Raybestos Rookie of the Year.
Kenseth and his No. 17 team continued to grow and develop while earning several accolades over the next few seasons, but in 2003, everything clicked for Kenseth and his team as he was crowned the final Winston-era Cup Champion with a record-setting performance. Kenseth's consistency kept the rest of the field at bay with a series-best 25 top-10 finishes, 11 top-five finishes, and one win. Kenseth also led the championship point standings that season for a record-breaking 34 straight weeks en route to Roush Fenway Racing's first-ever Cup title.
Over the course of the next five seasons, Kenseth qualified for the Chase for the Cup every season from 2004 through 2008 and in the process, continued to add to his career achievements list. In 2006, Kenseth became the first driver since Dale Earnhardt to win back-to-back Bristol night races and along the way set career highs for top-five finishes (15), laps led (1,132), and average finishes (9.8).
Kenseth began the 2009 season with back-to-back victories by winning the Daytona 500 and followed up his victory a week later at California Speedway with another win. With the Daytona 500 win, Kenseth earned a spot with some elite company like Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, David Pearson and Richard Petty as one of only five drivers in NASCAR history who have won a Cup Championship, the Raybestos Rookie Award, and the Daytona 500.
The 2010 season saw Kenseth sport new primary colors on his No. 17 Ford as Crown Royal joined Kenseth and the team. Although he has not yet won a race this season, Kenseth could pull of a big win Sunday if he can visit Victory Lane in his 400th career start during Ford Championship Weekend. Kenseth has already earned six top-five finishes and 14 top-10 finishes this season, but is looking to close out the 2010 season with a win under his belt. Amidst the Sprint Cupbeing decided on Sunday, Kenseth - who enters the weekend fifth in the driver point standings - will look to finish the season on a high note.